Violence breaks out at Berkeley protest

on Aug28

Thousands of demonstrators, carrying signs with slogans like “Stand Against Hate,” descended on Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park on Sunday for what many hoped would be a peaceful march against bigotry and President Trump.

But it was soon punctuated by tear gas and a scattering of violent skirmishes. Some anti-fascist protesters, wearing black and with their faces covered, chased or beat Trump supporters and organizers who had scheduled and then canceled the “anti-Marxist” rally, citing concerns over safety.

Police, and in some cases other counter-protesters, stepped in to halt the violence or escort the victims away from the area. Officers reported 14 arrests, many of them for violations of the city’s emergency rules banning masks, sticks and potential weapons inside the demonstration area.

The clashes came despite widespread calls from activists and elected officials across the Bay Area for peaceful civil disobedience and underscores Berkeley’s growing reputation for violent reaction by the far left. Other protests earlier this year in the city turned ugly, with far-left and far-right forces fighting in the streets.

Some in Berkeley worried that Sunday’s chaos, captured on video and quickly disseminated through social media, would provide unwanted ammunition to Trump and his supporters.

When protesters and counter-protesters arrived, they encountered a series of dump trucks lined up to form a barricade, an effort aimed at keeping a car from heading into a crowd. Marchers encountered concrete barriers at the park.

After the march, Berkeley resident Nancy Kerr said she viewed the protest as a success. Kerr, 33, said she was not afraid of the masked “black bloc” marchers, arguing that they had a “role to play in protecting protesters.”

Still, she and her husband, 34-year-old Kyle Sessions, expressed mixed feelings about some of the incidents that occurred.

“The violence worries me because it puts the police more on edge,” Sessions said. “They’re more likely to respond more forcefully with violence of their own.”

Times staff writer Jazmine Ulloa contributed to this story.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT @paigestjohn & @boreskes for news from the Bay Area protests this weekend.


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8 p.m.: This article was updated with a new top and more details from demonstration.

6 p.m.: This article was updated with new comments from demonstrators.

4:20 p.m.: This article was updated with new comments from demonstrators.

3:10 p.m.: Updated with video showing violence.

2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with more details about violence, new lede.

1:50 p.m. This article was updated with new information from the scene.

1:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with more news from the scene.

1 p.m.: This article was updated with new information from police.

11:55 a.m.: This article was updated with additional comments from demonstrators.

12:55 p.m.: This article has been updated with new information about arrests.

11:30 a.m.: This article has been updated with more comments from demonstrators.

10:10 a.m.: This article has been updated with new details about the scene at a UC Berkeley park.

This article was originally posted at 9:40 a.m.

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